Monday, August 6, 2007

Mick McGinty: Sliced Tomato


This is a sinister painting. Being all cut up and bleeding, that tomato somehow conjures up the cinematic horror genre. The cavities filled with juice echo the cut pumpkins during Halloween celebration. The green leaves also look menacing, like a Gorgon, or perhaps a spider, an octopus or simply a mutated feral chicken's foot. They appear moving, in a grabbing motion. The fact that the leaves were not removed prompts to question for the reason, because usually, all green parts are disposed of before the slicing begins. Why not here? Maybe, because the purpose of this tomato is not to be eaten; possibly the cutter needs the seeds, or the juice. The seeds, in turn, could be used for something other than planting (if this is the way to harvest seeds at all -- I have to admit my total ignorance in this sphere). Keeping with the mysterious spirit, I tend to think in the direction of one of Sir Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories -- "The Five Orange Pips." In any case, the impracticality of such slicing makes it a symbolical act, and perhaps demonstrates a certain ritual.

The darker tones of the table further reinforce these generic impressions; as do the cuts, in the form of an X and prison cell bars. The colors appear to shimmer and constantly modulate. The gritty orange alternates with cold diluted blue, gray, black and white. The bright red of the vegetable clashes with such an "unhealthy" combination, in a way in which a sickly ruddiness flushes the ghastly face of a tubercular patient. There is something sardonic about this painting: it is, after all, only a vegetable -- but I can't shake off the feeling of lurking violence, and threat.

The composition of two tomato halves creates a mirroring balance, which, however, is disturbed by their placement on the higher part of the canvas. This is an intentional instability: as a result, the two parts appear to fall, or roll down; instability, which leads to uncertainty, emotional shakiness and eventually fear. Additionally, the artist avoids the acceptable norm of the genre. Instead of depicting whole vegetables, he chooses to deviate and break the pattern, exploring a different approach. And, by slicing up the routine subject, he parodies the norm. This piece may inspire a lugubrious mood but, it does it with such style, as to make me embrace it with a smile.

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